Owners and marketers of small businesses often tell the same story when asked about SEO; they don’t have the time to write the content they feel is needed to do well at SEO. Thankfully though, churning out masses of copy every month is not the key to climbing small business SEO rankings. However, a good content strategy is. It will help ensure your products and services are visible when someone searches with relevant terms.
So, how should you write copy for the benefit of small business SEO?
Blogs are not SEO
When writing copy for the purpose of ranking well in the organic search results, this does not automatically equal blog posts. Although your blog can be a great place to target the terms that people at the “top of the funnel” might be searching for, it is not always the most important content for you to be writing.
There needs to be a strategy behind the copy that you write for it to bring about ROI. Ensure your product and service pages are well written with keyword-targeted copy before you move on to writing blog posts.
Less can be more
Many people have the concern when they sit down to write copy for their website that they need to be writing a lot for it to count for SEO purposes. The next most important point to understand is that the search engines are looking to rank pages that best answer a user’s search query. The length of the copy on the page they are ranking is not in itself a “ranking factor” when it comes to small business SEO. Word count does not impact how high up the search results your page will feature.
Instead, write copy with the reader in mind. Are you writing enough for them to get the answer they needed when they started searching? For product pages, for instance, a description of the product may be sufficient. There is no need to write hundreds of words unless the product requires that to adequately describe it.
Yes, studies have been conducted which suggest the longer pages of copy have a better chance at ranking higher than shorter pages of copy. However, given the complexity of the search engine algorithmsm this is more likely to be due to other factors than the length of the copy itself.
This also means there is no point in having a blog writing schedule that ties you into writing copy more than you have time for. Only write copy for your site that has a strict purpose.
‘Give your copy to someone else to read and ask them to spot which keywords you are using’
The best way to use copy for SEO is to answer people’s questions
The best strategy for writing copy is to ensure you are writing copy that searchers are looking for. This means conducting research into search trends and volumes when it comes to small business SEO. There are free tools available, such as Google’s own Keyword Planner, to get an idea of how many people a month are searching for your target terms.
Look at ‘People also ask’
You might have an idea of the sorts of terms people are searching for to land on a website like yours, but there may be others that you have not considered. A quick way to get ideas of popular search phrases related to your target keywords is by looking at the “People also ask” suggestions provided by Google when you conduct a search.
Enter one of the key phrases that you know could drive qualified organic traffic to your site into Google and scroll down until you see the “People also ask” tabs. Use these as inspiration of other search terms and check out their search volume. Once you click into one, Google will populate more. You can get a long list of related keywords to help your small business SEO and start working through these to understand which terms your audience would be searching with.
Look at forums for what people want to know
Another great way to get an idea of what topics your audience is interested in is by looking online at the forums and websites they frequent. For instance, you can use the popular website Reddit to find a “sub-reddit” about your industry. From there you will get an idea of the types of questions they have. Write copy that addresses this. It is likely your audience is turning to Reddit to ask the question, then the answer does not already exist online.
Write with keywords in mind, but don’t over-engineer
The key to writing good copy for SEO is to write it for your audience and not the search engine robots. At the end of the day, the algorithms are very sophisticated and can’t be fooled just by using your target keywords lots of times. It is also important to remember that you are trying to get your copy near the top of the search engine ranking pages so that your target audience will find it and visit your site. If they land on your webpage and it’s written just to cram in a lot of keywords, it is unlikely they will be impressed enough with your brand to stick around on your site for long.
Write your copy to engage visitors who will see it, but keep in mind the key phrases you are targeting on that page. The trick is to select a few closely related terms to target per page and then use them throughout the copy when it makes sense to do so. A good test is to give your draft copy to someone else to read and ask them if they can tell which keywords you are using. If they can, you may have overused them.
It is better to optimise existing copy than write more
A key for anyone short on time but keen to have a well-ranking site is to remember that you can make the most of the copy you already have on the site before writing more.
Look at the webpages which are ranking on pages two or three that haven’t had much SEO work done on them and see if you can optimise them by better targeting them to the key words they are already ranking for so they climb up the search results.
3 top tips to remember
- There is no set amount of copy you need to produce per month, or length it needs to be when you do write it
- Make sure however much copy you do manage to write is written with the purpose of ranking for particular search phrases
- Don’t overlook copy you already have on your site
Helen Pollitt is head of digital at digital marketing agency Avenue Digital
Further reading on SEO
Other SEO Resources
You can find lots of guides on the web for free if you want to learn more about SEO for your business website. Here are some key sites to check out:
- Search Engine Journal – this is their ‘Introduction to SEO basics’ section.
- Moz.com – has a whole section called ‘Learn SEO’ which is split into how-to guides, a beginner’s guide, a learning centre, webinars and a Q&A.
- Search Engine Land – although mostly focused on daily news and updates within the search industry it does have this neat 9 chapter guide on the fundamentals of optimizing for search.
- Semrush – is an SEO software suite for digital marketing professionals but it also has this learning centre accessible to non-subscribers.
- Ahrefs – another SEO software suite used by professionals and digital marketing agencies. They offer a ‘Learn SEO roadmap’ which has a great section on blogs and groups to follow if you really want to amp up your knowledge.
- Search Engine Watch – has an SEO-specific category which covers the latest developments.
There is no doubt you can do your own SEO for you own business and get very good results. Just understanding and then practising the fundamentals can often work wonders for improving traffic levels and leads. However, like any marketing effort, sometimes it is worth getting in a digital marketing professional or agency to handle what is these days such an important facet of running almost any business. If you are armed with knowledge of the basics though, you can have much better conversations with any consultants you might bring in and end up working together much more fruitfully. So be sure to follow the advice given here and follow-up on the provided SEO resources!